Yoga Helps Stroke Patients

A new study finds that yoga helps stroke patients regain balance, leading to faster recovery.
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A new study finds that yoga helps stroke patients regain balance, leading to faster recovery.

If you’ve had a stroke, or know someone who has, you’ve seen how devastating the effects can be on the body. Many people lose range of motion, muscular control, and strength in various areas of their bodies and that impacts how they function in day to day life, as well as their ability to socialize with others. Two new reports from a recent study, however, have found that yoga can help stroke patients in important ways.

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The study was conducted by Arlene Schmid, a rehabilitation research scientist at the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis who led the research initiative in this VA-funded study. Her analysis, titled “Physical Improvements After Yoga for People With Chronic Stroke,” indicated significant improvements for patients in regard to strength, flexibility, and endurance, according to Medical Xpress. Schmid believes that yoga helped her patients regain neuromuscular control, which was at the heart of these improvements.

Another researcher, Tracy Dierks, penned an analysis called “The Effect of Balance Exercise Therapy on Gait Parameters in Individuals With Chronic Stroke.” In the same study, he looked at how yoga could be useful in in helping those recovering from a stroke to walk again with more balance, speed, and strength. He found that the balance aspect of yoga made a big difference in patient recovery (an increase of 34 percent), but that patients still got tired by the end of the test (their endurance did not improve).

The findings of these new analyses were presented during the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in San Francisco earlier this month.

To learn more about how to practice yoga while recovering from a stroke, check out this article by Dr. Baxter Bell, author of YJ's Doctor's Orders blog.